PERSONALISATION, a word that has taken a Jordan-like catapult to superstardom in the marketing world since the digital age dawned upon us. I hear it so often in adland that we may as well add it as a fifth ‘P’ in McCarthy’s traditional view of marketing – but, has anyone stopped to think about the impact it’s having?
Now, before you jump to the impact it’s having on results, I want to stop you. Instead, I’d like to talk about the impact it’s having on society’s decision making ability…big question, I know, but let me give you some food for thought.
Let’s start with adlands Professor X-like ability to change people’s behaviour. At the end of the day, that’s why we have a job in the first place.
Some of you may say that it is overly ambitious to think that we, as advertisers, actually have that much power over people’s decisions. I tend to agree, in that the power of our message only has the ability to nudge people in the right direction – it can’t force people to think or act in a specific way.
But, what if everywhere you looked you were given the same viewpoint on a topic, to the point where it was all you knew. These nudges begin to turn into shoves.
A well known example of this is the Facebook relationship status change. If you’ve ever changed your Facebook status from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘single’ you will notice all of the singles dating sites encouraging you to “meet new people”, and the diet plans offering to magically transform you into a “better you”. Whether you like it, or not, this type of personalisation is shoving society to think that being single needs to be ‘fixed’ ASAP.
So, where is this level of personalisation leading society?
Imagine a world where a large portion of our youth are targeted in such a way that the extravagant wall building policies of a one, Mr. D. Trump is all they know. “Protected” from any other viewpoint, they may very well solemnly swear by such outrageous viewpoints, as they aren’t given perspective.
In this future fuelled by personalisation, we may be so trapped in our own siloed world that we never become exposed to differing perspectives. As a society, we will be closed off from each other, as anything that occurs outside of our personalised bubble will never hit our radar.
Could we already be living in this world?…Quite possibly.
I believe we have a responsibility to better educate ourselves on the impact of creating a ‘tunnel vision’ society, fuelled by a never-ending desire for personalisation.
A world of excessive personalisation, is one without perspective. Without perspective, how can we develop our own opinion?